Our semester has been full. Every single day except for Friday, students have been learning in the classroom. Right now, I hear Peter, our teacher/project manager, talk to a student about a web design project. I remember when I first started EnCircle, most techie talk was unfamiliar. Now, however, my level has gone up to where I can converse fairly comfortably — surprising and wonderful! I am empowered and somewhat capable.
I think our students feel more and more capable now too. I hear about their budding websites or a programming project for class. One student did very well in her Excel test, another student put together a cool video project for a gaming community in town. As I write, students strive to get their college credit in a tech area. Soon, they will be like many college students, fretting over finals.
The semester has been full of good people visiting our classroom, having coffee, advising, supporting us. We had companies step up and help with sponsorships of our video game tournament: Yash Technologies, Columbia College, Easter Seals Midwest, Commerce Bank, Veterans United Tech Division, TekSystems being some of our bigger donors.
I am so thankful for them. Do they know how much their money is needed to continue our program? Can they imagine the faces of the parents and young adults who visit for enrollment and find such a cool place to grow and learn? I see the faces and the hopes. I see the growth in the classroom. I’m telling you — ceilings are being lifted.
Of course, we’ve had other individuals and companies also help — the Columbia Performing Dance Center, Carfax, G3CFO, Hawthorn Bank, Van Matre, Harrison, Hollis, Taylor, and Elliott, P.C., the Llorens family, Imhoff Foundation, US Bank, Boone County Bank, Human Resources Association — CoMo chapter, Connor Hall, Missouri United Methodist Church, grandmothers, a Pampered Chef hostess, other autism parents, friends, and an aunt.
They understand that employment matters: helping someone with autism become trained for employment helps beat the odds of 75% not being employed.
I’m thankful for the people within our organization who work — we are lifting together, moving forward. Peter, our teacher and project manager, is patient and capable: the perfect person to have in our endeavor. Our board president, Brian Lloyd, is amazing in his commitment and capabilities; his role as a father with a son at EnCircle gives him loving insight. Monett Lite, our board treasurer, has also given much to her role with countless hours to set up a respectable accounting system. Finally, Collin, Julie, Lexi, Natalie, David, LeaAnn, Tom, and Guy are all pulling together on the board for our students’ good, as well as Mike and Brenda who helped us at the beginning. I am thankful.
Our Mizzou service-learning students — David, Josh, and Jeni– this semester have also been extremely helpful. And, the rest of our current teaching staff, Joe Chee and Roy Thorsby, are dedicated to the best for our students. And, past teachers like Lindsay McGuire, Bob Martin, Denise Tate-Kuhler, Joshua Holland, Cheryl Untershutz, Renee Carter, Brenda Quinlan, Tara Shade, Scott Claybrook, Ellis Benus have poured their talents and skills into our students — thank you!
We’ve also loved every client who came to us for a website (here on our portfolio). We want to thank more next year and those who give referrals.
The students themselves make me very proud. I feel as if I am incredibly lucky to be able to spend almost every day with them. They are funny, interesting, and good people. I hope that the world sees them as individuals, worthy of getting to be known (and employed). They also help me know what video games an older female — nonviolent, gets-motion-sickness — should play. We help each other out.
I am not the only one expressing thanks. I present a list of grateful individuals who are glad that EnCircle exists. It exists because of heart, time, and money participation, because of understanding that resources are desperately needed for exceptional individuals. Thank you all! Teri Walden, Executive Director, Co-Founder
~~ Why I’m Grateful for EnCircle
It has taught me a lot. If it weren’t here, I’d probably be playing more video games. It has given me job skills in HTML/CSS, Visual Basic, and WordPress — and also a roommate. Nate Weimer, student.
The experience that it has given me. I’ve made a lot of new friends. I’ve learned a lot of good communication skills and how to reach out to the community to help EnCircle. And, it’s fun! Jeni Slade, MU Service Learning student, Marketing major, Fall 2015
Encircle is such a wonderful organization that works so hard to give these adults the training and guidance needed to lead productive and satisfying lives by providing them with engaging, real-life work opportunities. I am thankful to have been a part of training these amazing students and I will never forget the satisfaction I received from seeing them attain new skills. Denise Tate-Kuhler, former teacher.
One of the highlights of my summer was the opportunity I had to teach a short class on animation to three wonderful students at EnCircle. These students were engaged, creative, enthusiastic and open to trying to new things. As a teacher, I couldn’t have asked for better students. I enjoyed the experience so much that if, given the opportunity to do so, I’d teach another class on a volunteer basis. That’s how awesome the young people being served through EnCircle are. And, that’s a testament to the quality programming they are receiving as students at EnCircle. Because they are encouraged to explore new ideas, technologies and techniques, these students are equipped with the skills and tools necessary to face the future with confidence and competence! Such a pleasure and privilege to know each and every individual affiliated with this amazing organization! Cheryl Unterschutz, M.Ed.
I am grateful for EnCircle Technologies because it is providing a safe and fun place for my son to gain employable skills and confidence that he can make it on his own. He has grown both physically and emotionally in the last 18 months at EnCircle and he is showing his potential! -Brian Lloyd, Father of son with Autism
I am thankful for the classes so I can learn HTML/CSS and video editing and WordPress. Thankful for the opportunity to increase my knowledge. I am thankful for Peter who is patient with me. Cody, student
I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of this worthy endeavor! David Clithero, Board Member
I’m grateful for Encircle giving me the opportunity to teach not just any subject, but something I’m passionate about. Encircle as a company has opened my eyes on the need for education in the autism spectrum. It’s a message worth spreading and has made me a better person. Joe Chee, video editing & production teacher, tech support
I am grateful for all the new things I am learning. I am grateful for the interesting people on the board that I would not have met if I were not on it. Julie Donnelly, board member.
I am grateful that EnCircle pushes its students to find independence and meaning in their lives. I am grateful that my work at EnCircle pushes me to find meaning in my own life. I am grateful to be a part of something bigger than myself, that provides a positive impact on the Mid-Missouri community. I am excited about the opportunities for individual freedom that EnCircle presents its students. I am excited about the emotional intelligence they will acquire as they enter this new stage in adulthood. I am grateful for Teri and Peter and for the vision that they work for day-in and day-out. Josh Habermehl, MU Service-Learning Student, senior finance major
I am thankful the next generation is figuring out the nuances of the programming jobs I love. I am thankful that the team at EnCircle is working out how to share advanced topics with my kid, or someone who may as well be my kid. I am thankful for the chance to pitch in so that maybe the next guy can fight to get ahead instead of fighting as hard as I did to get started. Fauna Hubble, Tech Professional Mentor
I am thankful for the opportunity to help create pathways to help hidden talent in our community find their groove. I am grateful to be part of a movement grounded in empathy, operating entrepreneurially, and empowering people every day. I am thankful to be part of an event that let’s me play Smash Brothers all day to help fundraise to train adults on the spectrum in serious programming skills. Collin Bunch, Board Member
I am happy for a cool place to learn technology. I like the small class sizes. I want to become a web developer. Student.
Without EnCircle, there would not be a place for my son to learn. I am so thankful. Lisa Imhoff, parent.